Wests Tigers have been defeated 26-10 by the Penrith Panthers in their Round 17 clash in front of a strong Sunday afternoon crowd at Leichhardt Oval.
Both Mitchell Moses and Matthew Lodge had strong NRL debuts for the Club, but were unable to make the difference against one of the competition’s top teams.
Despite several attacking chances early, it was the Panthers who posted first points of the afternoon through Matt Moylan in the 16th minute.
A darting run from the fullback saw him take advantage of broken space, with a sharp left step beating Moses and allowing him to score under the posts.
Jamie Soward added the extras for a 6-0 lead after 17 minutes.
Tyrone Peachey appeared to have extended the visitors’ lead shortly after when he burrowed over from dummy half, but the try was pulled back for an obstruction — gifting Wests Tigers a lifeline on their own line.
The hosts wouldn’t be so lucky with the video referee moments later, though, when Dean Whare touched down in the right corner on the 26th minute mark.
Soward again added the extras to push the lead to 12-0.
Chris Lawrence looked to have put the visitors within striking distance when he charged on to an inside ball from Luke Brooks, but the referee spotted a knock-on as he went to put the ball down and the try was pulled back.
That allowed the Panthers to hold on to their 12-0 lead heading into the break.
On the back of a mountain of possession and field position, Penrith extended their lead even further in the 48th minute when Kevin Naiqama touched down in the right corner following some sharp work across the back from Moylan.
Soward missed the conversion — leaving the score at 16-0.
A stepping run from Blake Austin in the 53rd minute saw Wests Tigers finally cross the line and reduce the score to 14-6, but the eight-point margin was short lived, as Peachey sent Jamal Idris over in the 57th minute.
Soward again pushed the conversion to leave the score at 20-6.
An injury to captain Braith Anasta saw him leave the field shortly after that try — forcing a reshuffle across the back — and that allowed the visitors to again exploit the space and cross for their fifth try of the afternoon.
It was Naiqama who bagged his second of the day as he burst on to the outside of Lawrence to push the lead out to 20 points following Soward’s conversion.
That saw the visitors take a 26-6 lead.
Brooks reduced the margin to 14 points after linking up on the inside from Lawrence’s run down the left edge in the 78th minute, but it was simply too little too late for the visitors to mount any sort of comeback.
Final: Penrith Panthers 26 def. Wests Tigers 10